- a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness: "do not give in to discouragement"
- an attempt to prevent something by showing disapproval or creating difficulties; deterrent: "the discouragement of crime"*
I would imagine that most of us have had to deal with times of discouragement in our lives. I heard a story yesterday about a leader named David who returned to his hometown with his faithful and devoted army of 600 men only to find their town burned to the ground and all their families and stuff gone. The tale goes on to tell how David was beside himself with sorrow and regret and then to make matters even worse, his men began to turn on him as they blamed him for their loss and wanted to stone him!
Talk about fighting discouragement! In that particular set of circumstances, I think I can relate to how he must have felt… and I’m sure it wasn’t too positive. So what do you think he did? Did he go off into a corner and feel sorry for himself? Did he jump on his horse and skedaddle? (Did they even use horses in battle back then? How about camels…)
Well… this story which is recorded in the Biblical book of I Samuel 30 tells us in verse six that David resisted the fear and anger that was plaguing his army and instead “encouraged himself in the Lord.” (KJV) And you know what happened? Let me tell you… after getting built back up in the Lord, he sought the Lord’s directions, gathered up his troops and went after the enemy where they found them “scattered all over the place, eating and drinking, gorging themselves on all the loot they had plundered from Philistia and Judah.” (I Samuel 30:16 MSG) The next verse says that David and his army “pounced” on them, defeated them and got everyone and everything taken from them back safe and sound!
Now that’s the kind of ending to a story that I like… how about you? Hearing this story at church really encouraged me yesterday and confirmed what I believe the Lord had shown me during my personal Bible study before my breakfast.
I always help Piper with her morning meal before I feed the dog, study the Word and then feed myself! Well… yesterday’s breakfast for my wife did not go too smoothly. From the onset, she was not real interested in swallowing anything I gave her. For a while there it seemed like I was getting more on my hands than in her mouth! But I persevered and even though it took quite a while, she was finally able to consume a satisfactory amount of her breakfast drinks.
To say that I was tempted to be more than a little discouraged would be putting it mildly! By the time we were done I was feeling frustrated, upset and almost ready to throw in the towel. I sat at the table next to her for a while rubbing my tired eyes and considered all the thoughts going through my head, but you know… I deliberately chose to not say a thing. Instead I slowly got up, put the lease on the dog and took him outback for his morning constitutional.
Once out in the cool of the mid-October morning, I listened to the songs of the birds in the trees, watched a squirrel run up the side of our fence and reflected on the blue skies surrounding the puffy white clouds overhead. Once Fiver was done, he jerked me back to reality as he pulled me up the stairs to the deck so he could get inside and have his breakfast! After I got his food prepared in his special bowl and placed it on his mat next to the refrigerator, I poured a hot insulated cup of Starbucks Carmel flavored coffee and sat down at my computer Bible Study program and began to pray for directions.
During this whole time since feeding my wife, I felt like I was in a fog. I was fighting through a sense of hopelessness which is normally quite unusual for me and dealing with a strong desire to give into the discouragement that seemed to be screaming at me from all directions! As my attempts to quiet myself down began to succeed, I heard a soft voice inside of me encouraging me to turn to Proverbs 3:5-6. So I clicked a few keys on my laptop, highlighted the God’s Word © translation, clicked the mouse to the correct scripture address and read:
“Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.”
Now, what you see above are the words that were visible on my computer screen, but what I actually saw was:
“Trust in ME Jim with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge ME, and I will make your paths smooth.”
You talk about the effects of a cool drink of water to a hot, exhausted and worn out body (soul and spirit as well!) Yummmm… with those two sentences, I flopped back in my seat and quietly began to thank the Lord for just the right WORD at just the right time! I think at that moment in time, David and I were like two peas in a pod!
Instead of giving into discouragement, Papa God helped me to keep my mouth shut until I could turn to Him and seek His support and guidance in my time of need.
What about you today? Are you feeling discouraged about anything? It could be your health or like me, the health of someone very close and special to you. It could be a financial need, a situation at work or in your family… or it could be just about anything no matter how outrageously large or ridiculously small in size and effect in your life. Whatever it is… it matters big time to God!
And let me tell you… He does not want you to give into discouragement because He has and IS the answer for your need. He loves you SO much that He doesn’t want you wasting even a second of your life being discouraged when He can be your uplifting support, comfort and strong fortress!
The King James Version of David’s story says that, “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” The Hebrew term “encouraged” means “to fasten upon (the Lord), to be strengthened, made courageous, to be cured, fortified, repaired and/or become obstinate (in your unwavering trust in the Lord for your life).” Just reading that definition makes me feel better… how about you? Just think about it for a moment. All those attributes are what our heavenly Father wants us to be in and through our connection with Him! Wow… so when you and I are weak, He is strong!
Thank you Lord! Have a great new week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to turn to for strength and support when discouragement rears its ugly head around me?”
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